Month: April 2017

Rays Need Newcomers to Perform for Turnaround Season:

Yes, you can expect Evan Longoria to put up solid numbers at the plate. Chris Archer? He did have a good spring training, and could be on track to put his horrible 19-loss season behind him. A 10-6 season may not sound astounding, but it made Jake Odorizzi the Rays best pitcher in 2016. Coming off a 37-save season with a 1.91 ERA, Alex Colome looks to remain a dependable closer.

 

But if Tampa Bay wants to give its rivals in the tough American League Eastern division headaches, they will have to rely a lot on their newcomers.

 

The first of these looked to be catcher Wilson Ramos. A free agent signee in the off season, Ramos hit .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs for the Nationals last year. But a knee injury will keep him sidelined for most of the first half of the season. This means the Rays will have to lean on new pickup Derek Norris behind the plate. He did have 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 125 games for San Diego last year, but needs to up his average from an abysmal .186.

 

While Colome is set at closer, questions remain about the other relievers leading up to him, especially with injuries to Brad Boxberger and Shawn Tolleson. The Rays hope Austin Pruitt can provide effective relief in their place. He fanned 149 batters in 162 innings for AAA Durham last year and was named the Bulls MVP.

 

One of the more exciting players to keep an eye on is former Atlanta Brave Mallex Smith. He has received high marks for his speed and defense, swiping 229 bases in five years in the minors, then 16 in 72 games with the Braves last year. Though he will need to up his average from the .238 mark in 2016. Tampa Bay also strengthened its bench with the addition of veterans Rickie Weeks, Jr. and Peter Bourjas.

 

If the newbies click and the vets perform as expected, 2017 could be an improvement over 2016 for Tampa Bay.

 

Tampa Bay Courting Adrian Peterson

During the 2016 NFL season, one of the most intriguing teams in the league were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a strong 2015 season, they seemed well-positioned to take the next step forward and make the NFL playoffs. However, during the 2017 NFL season, the Buccaneers were not quite able to get over the hump as they finished with 9 wins and 7 losses and finished just outside of the playoff hunt.

 

Now that the season is over, the Buccaneers have the chance to reflect on their team needs and find ways to improve. One weakness that the Buccaneers had was a lack of wide receiver depth. The team quickly made an effort to confront this issue when they signed DeSean Jackson, who is a former Pro Bowl wide receiver. The team is also hoping to fill in some additional holes on the roster during the upcoming NFL draft.

 

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already made some big moves and have a lot of plans for the NFL draft, there are rumors out there that they could be making another big move (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000796316/article/adrian-peterson-jameis-workout-intrigues-bucs-coach). According to some experts, the Buccaneers could be courting Adrian Peterson. Peterson is a future Hall of Fame running back who has spent his whole career with the Minnesota Vikings. However, in two of the past three seasons he has been very unproductive due to either suspension or injury.

 

A lot of the rumors around Peterson circulate around the fact that Peterson and star quarterback, Jameis Winston, were recently spotted working out together. While nothing is formal about the relationship yet, many believe that the addition of Peterson could be very productive for the team. With Doug Martin already in the backfield, it could give the team a chance to take a lot of pressure off the quarterback, which could greatly open up the passing game.

 

Rays Defeat Yankees in Season Opener

The 2017 season for the Tampa Bay Rays got off to a roaring start as they walloped the New York Yankees by a score of 7-3. The great performance in the first game of the season helped to erase many of the bad memories that many of the Rays players had of the 2016 season. The team finished in the cellar of the American League East last year. Needless to say, that is something they are not looking to repeat this year. Rays manager Kevin Cash praised his club after the game. He said the win was a true team effort with many players doing their part to contribute.

 

Masahiro Tanaka got torched in his first start of the year for the Yankees. This was very surprising considering the fact that the right-hander had an earned run average of under one in all four of his spring training starts. He was completely dominant in the spring. He showed no signs of the lack of command that he displayed on Opening Day against the Rays. Tanaka expressed great disappointment in his performance. He claimed that he felt fine physically. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was not concerned about Tanaka during his interview after the game. He knows that it is a long season and every pitcher is going to have a bad start here and there.

 

This was the sixth year in a row that the Yankees have tasted defeat on Opening Day. It is now a team record for most consecutive Opening Day Losses. The previous record was established from 1934-38. Evan Longoria continued his dominance of the Yankees. He hit the 33rd home run of his career against them in 150 games. He has also driven in 101 runs against the Yankees in his career. The third baseman of the Rays says that he can’t explain why he has had so much success against the Yankees over the years. He says that he approaches them the same way he does other teams.

 

Chris Archer pitched well for the Rays in his debut outing for 2017. Logan Morrison also chipped in with a solo homer for the Rays.

Kevin Knox is the Guy to Watch

All eyes are on Kevin Knox. The high school basketball player is narrowing down his college choices after being one of the most sought after athletes this season.

 

Kevin revealed plans to visit the University of Missouri earlier this week. “Final Visit to the University of Missouri on April 8th and 9th,” Knox tweeted. “Go Tigers,” he hashtagged.

 

Many of Kevin’s followers were in full support of him choosing Missouri over other schools. “You could be a part of history at Mizzou. You could have a statue outside the arena someday. Come be a part of something never done before,” one fan tweeted. Another follower agreed by telling the young athlete that legendary status was waiting on him at the university.

 

In many ways, Kevin is already a living legend. The teen was named Mr. Basketball by the Florida Dairy Farmers last month, which makes him the first player to win the award since Casey Sanders was given the honor in 1999. Kevin Knox was also the first high school basketball player to be selected to compete in the McDonald’s All-American game in more than five years. John Henson was the last great chosen to play in the game in 2009.

 

In addition to receiving an offer from Missouri, Knox has been recruited by the likes of Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, LSU, and Auburn. Miami State has also placed a bid for the star athlete.

 

It’s no surprise that Kevin is the one to covet. After all, the high school player averaged 28.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game last season. He is presently ranked number seven by ESPN and Scout, and Rivals views him as the ninth best player in the nation. Kevin’s performance has earned him the thirteenth spot in 247 Sports roster of best high school basketball players. The budding star is expected to make his college choice on April 14, 2017.

 

Rays Ready to Climb Out of AL East Basement:

Is a playoff appearance in the cards for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017? Perhaps a return to the World Series?

 

In all likelihood, the answer to both questions is no. The American League East looks to remain one of baseball’s toughest divisions with Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore expected to battle for the title. But even without a trip to the post-season, there are reasons for Rays fans to be excited. The team appears on the cusp of rebounding from its dismal 2016. One indication for hope is the performance of Chris Archer this spring. The opening day starter went 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA, 17 strikeouts, and four walks in 13 innings in the pre-season. Any Rays resurgence will hinge on Archer recovering from a 19-loss season in 2016. Despite a 4.91 ERA in the spring, look for Jake Odorizzi to be a big factor in the starting rotation. Last year he was Tampa Bay’s best starter at 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA and 166 strikeouts. If he ups those numbers in 2017, the Rays will have a solid one-two punch in the rotation. Your text to link…

 

Offensively, the Rays will still have Evan Longoria banging out hits and driving in runs. Despite a .239 spring batting average, the All-Star third baseman is always good for 20-30 home runs and 80-90 RBIs a year. If Tampa Bay can get more production out of Logan Morrison and Kevin Kiermaier, they could have a pretty potent lineup. The big key that will be missing for much of the first half is Wilson Ramos. The former Washington catcher who had 22 home runs and 80 RBIs last year is on the disabled list with a knee injury. He is expected to return in June. In his place is former San Diego catcher Derek Norris, who has done well at the plate this spring.

 

There may be no playoffs for Tampa Bay this year, but if they can play .500 ball, it will be a step in the right direction.

 

 

Archer Shows Ace Stuff in Opener:

It’s only one game, but if Chris Archer keeps pitching this way, many will forget about the 19 loss season he had in 2016.

 

Archer threw seven innings in Sunday’s season opener for Tampa Bay, allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out five and walking just one. He also received a lot of offensive support early on as the Rays struck for seven runs in the first three innings. That earned Archer his first win of 2017 as Tampa Bay started the year with a 7-2 triumph over the New York Yankees.

 

Perhaps the most telling part of Archer’s performance came in the seventh inning. The Yankees first two batters, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, both reached on singles. Archer retired the next two Yanks, but Brett Gardner singled to load the bases for Gary Sanchez, the runner-up for the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award who had 20 home runs and 42 RBIs in 53 games. But Sanchez grounded out to short, ending the Yankee threat.

 

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he felt it important to let Archer get out of that seventh inning jam himself. Archer said that the Rays did not play a perfect game, but they played well enough to win. He also praised the team’s defense for helping him out. Your text to link…

 

While many focused on the 19 losses Archer had in 2016, he still showed signs that he has what it takes to be a bona fide ace. Five of his nine wins came after the All-Star break. He also tied Chicago’s Chris Sale for second in the American League in strikeouts with 233, while walking only 67.

 

The opening day win was important not only for Archer, but for the team as well as fans, knowing that the 28-year-old righty appears a starter they can depend on. With another good year by Jake Odorizzi, and solid performances by other promising pitchers, Tampa Bay may be able to escape the cellar in 2017.

 

Adrian Peterson Has Workout With Tampa Bay QB Winston

Adrian Peterson was a star for the first 10 years of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings. During that time, he established himself as the best running back of his generation. However, the Vikings opted not to pick up Peterson’s hefty $18 million option for the 2017 season. This immediately made Peterson a free agent for the first time in his career. Many people are wondering which team he will sign with. This is why the national sports media went into a frenzy when they learned that Peterson has been working out with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jaemis Winston.

 

There are only a handful of teams that have the right schematic fit for Peterson at the present time. Tampa Bay is one of those teams. The Buccaneers management has said very little about the possibility of the superstar running back signing with them. Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter said that he was very surprised to find out that Peterson and Winston had been working out together. However, he downplayed the significance of it. Koetter said that it does not mean that Peterson signing with the Buccaneers is imminent. He also was skeptical if the Tampa Bay ownership would be willing to pay the large salary that Peterson is looking for.

 

The reality is that Peterson is 32 years old and coming off a season that saw him only play in three games because of an injury. NFL history shows that the productivity of running backs goes down significantly after their 30th birthday. Therefore, Peterson’s age and recent history of injuries make him a very big financial risk for the team that eventually ends up signing him. Tampa Bay’s current running back is Doug Martin. However, he will be suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season. Therefore, there have been rumors about the Buccaneers signing Peterson as a very big upgrade at that position.

 

Peterson has said that he likes working out with Winston because they both keep the same pace. However, it remains to be seen if the two Pro Bowl players will ever wear the same uniform.

 

 

 

Despite Sold Out Stadiums, Tampa Bay Rays Will Get Limited Public Support

Spring training has returned to Tampa, which means that is is time to once again enjoy the spoils of being home to the Grapefruit League. On Sunday, April 2, the Tampa Bay Rays will host the New York Yankees for Opening Day. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 1:10 p.m.

 

As expected, tickets to this game at Tropicana Stadium sold out rather quickly. Selling out early for Opening Day is a Tampa tradition that dates back more than 10 years, however, this type of public support will no longer apply to building new stadiums.

 

According to various news reports coming from Tallahassee, the Florida House of Representatives has voted against the use of public land resources for the purpose of funding stadiums for professional sports franchises. In other words, the Tampa Bay Rays’ search for a new stadium will not end up like the situation with the Miami Marlins a few years ago.

 

The Marlins were able to secure more than $400 million for the construction of their very own baseball park, but these funds came from a free loan originating from municipal bonds. In other words, Marlins Park will be completed with a chunk of taxpayer’s funds.

 

Florida House Bill 77 prohibits professional teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays to get public funding like the Marlins were able to secure in 2009. The bill passed by a wide margin of 82 votes in favor and just 33 against.

 

Critics of the bill complained that it places obstacles to economic growth in the Sunshine State. Aside from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rowdies soccer team will also be affected by the measure. Rowdies owner Bill Edwards was seeking $80 million to convert Al Lang Stadium in nearby Saint Petersburg into a Major League Soccer venue. It so happens that Tampa is an adequate market for soccer, but Edwards will now have to spend more time looking for private sources of funding.

 

In the meantime, enthusiasm for the Tampa Bay Rays is not winning as local fans expect that their favorite baseball team will prevail against the legendary Yankees on Opening Day.

 

Jonny Venters Returns to Tampa Bay Baseball Organization

The Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern division of the American League open their 2017 campaign on April 2 against the New York Yankees. Left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters will be with the Ray’s organization at the start of the season, but not in Tampa. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Tampa club.

 

At this point, the highlight of Venters’s career has been with the Atlanta Braves during 2010 to 2011. From the bullpen, he owned a 1.89 ERA and pitched 171 innings. In 2012, Venters injured his elbow and endured his second Tommy John surgery. While going through rehabilitation for that injury, he was injured again and required an additional surgery.

 

This is not Venters first venture with the Rays. In March of 2015, Tampa signed Venters as he was returning to baseball after his third Tommy John surgery. By mid-June of 2016, his pitch velocity was up to the middle 90s, and Venters pitched his first professional ballgame in four years on June 4, 2016. This comeback did not endure. In the course of his fifth appearance of the 2016 season, he had to leave the game with a torn UCL.

 

According to Baseball Reference, during Tommy Johns surgery the medial elbow ligament is replaced with a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or from a cadaver. The procedure is named after Tommy John, a major league pitcher and the first ball player to undergo the surgery. Prior to the development of the technique, pitchers were just noted to have a “dead arm” when their pitches no longer had the velocity from prior years. There is some disagreement in baseball circles if it is the speed of the pitches or the types of pitches thrown that result in a pitcher needing surgery.

 

 

The formidable Pasco’s Jordyn Kadlub

The postseason of the high school girls’ soccer has commenced with the beginning of the region play. The cost of the admission is just $7 for a game based on the talent of the Tampa Bay of the players such as Pasco High’s Jordyn Kadlub. There are major reasons why fans should come out in large numbers to watch the sophomore and her counterparts play.

 

One of the most important reason is that she has scored more than 50 goals under her name. The 50 goals are the 18 games, the figure that put her among the top five in the state. According to the MaxPreps, she is averaging about hat trick per matchup and still, she hasn’t come close to the number of her freshman of 58 goals. Incase Pasco manages to extend the post season she might beat the record that was set by the Ridgewood’s Melissa Wells in the season of 1990-91. She says that she plays for fun. She noted that this season has been terrific for her and her teammates since they managed to play all their games without losing.

 

Whenever Kadlub is playing there is a high possibility of her scoring a hat trick, this is another reason to draw the fans out to come and watch her play. For example during the district semifinal where they were pitted against Weeki Waache, she scored a hat trick and this was during the first half. Though the striker had four goals during this particular match, this was not the best performance of the season so far. She scored 7 goals against Zephyrhills, the match ended 8-0 this was in November. The Pasco coach notes that the way she plays is unique, whenever she sees an opportunity she takes it, she does not let it slip away.

 

Unlike other players who focus on a single game, Kedlub has plays two different sport games. Soccer is not her best, she plays softball as a pitcher. Even sports expert wonder how would one manage to be successful in two games at once. She has had 88 strikeouts in 101 as a freshman she manages all this in 101 innings. She says that she will decide later what game is for her in the future, but right now she just want to have fun.